11 July 2024

Asean foreign ministers will meet on January 29 in Luang Prabang to discuss and agree on the bloc’s agenda for the rest of the year, according to the programs released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The foreign ministers are scheduled to arrive a day earlier and hold a three-hour meeting during the first half of January 29. However, ASEAN enior officials will have a day and a half to thrash out their concerns and prepare the agenda for their leaders, according to the programs.

The ministers will have two sessions, each lasting for 90 minutes. The first session will focus on Asean affairs, outlining the goals the chair aims to achieve during its chairmanship. The second session will concentrate on regional and international issues, according to an informed diplomatic source.

The press conference by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith will follow immediately after the end of the retreat. Under the Lao chair, the theme is all about enhancing ASEAN connectivity and resilience. Saleumxay recently revealed the nine priorities that the ASEAN chair plans to present to the retreat for approval.

The first five areas belong to connectivity, including integrating and connecting economies, forging an inclusive and sustainable future, transformation for the digital future, and promoting ASEAN culture and arts for inclusivity and sustainability. The other four areas under the resilience pillar are developing strategic plans to complement the ASEAN Community Vision 2045, promoting Asean centrality, fostering environmental cooperation, focusing on women and children, and addressing health.

Regarding regional security, the top agenda item would be the implementation of the Five-point Peace Consensus (5PC), which has been stalled due to intensified fighting between the Myanmar military regime and resistance forces. After the coup in February 2021, ASEAN formulated the 5PC as a peace plan to seek a peaceful and inclusive solution led by Myanmar.

The newly appointed ASEAN Special Envoy Alounkeo Kittikoun recently visited Myanmar to hold talks with senior officials of the State Administration Council and representatives of stakeholders belonging to ethnic armed organizations. The purpose is to advance the stalled 5PC, especially on humanitarian assistance and inclusive dialogues. Hundreds of journalists have been registered to cover the retreat in the old capital Luang Prabang. Laos PDR served as the chair in 2004 and 2016.